Creating a safer road isn’t just the job of government ministers or road users, it’s a responsibility that we all share. From motorists to cyclists, pedestrians and passengers, we all need to work together to create a safer environment.
NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay and his party have announced a raft of new rules to address the safety of a particularly vulnerable group of road users cyclists, in their “cycling safety package”. These became law on 1 March 2016.
The most noteworthy of these laws is the rule making identification for cyclists compulsory. The law has been presented as a positive step in law enforcement and safety, but what does it really mean for the everyday cyclist?
The ID Laws Explained
From March 2017, all adult cyclists will be required to carry photo identification while they’re riding. The ID will be used to identify riders if they commit a traffic offence, or if they’re in an emergency situation.
Riders who fail to carry their ID will be subject to a $106 fine. Although this particular law does not come into effect until March 2017, cyclists are encouraged to form good habits now . Despite this fine, riders have been assured that they won’t be stopped for random checks and will only be asked to present their ID if they’re suspected of breaking the law.
What are the Other Laws?
The ID laws weren’t the only new rules introduced in what the government describes as a “cycling safety package”. From 1 March 2016 there will also be a range of other rules that apply to not just cyclists, but to motorists as well to promote cyclists’ safety.
Motorists must leave a 1 metre gap when passing cyclists at up to 60km/hr and 1.5 metres at greater speeds. Offending motorists will receive a fine and lose 2 demerit points.
Cyclists must leave at least one metre when passing pedestrians on a shared footpath, though no penalties apply to this, as it is a recommendation only.
Cyclists will also face higher fines under the new laws, including a 350 percent increase in the fine for riding without a helmet.
Cyclists riding without headgear will face a $319 penalty instead of $71, while the fine for running a red light will rise from $71 to $425 to align with driver fines.
Will These New Laws Actually Help?
Statistics show that around 11 cyclists die on New South Wales roads every year while an average of 1500 are admitted to hospital with serious injuries.
The increase in fines perhaps aims to share the responsibility between riders and drivers, although studies consistently show that drivers are more often the at-fault party in collisions.
As for the helmets and IDs, industry representatives claim that most cyclists already wear helmets and that even more – around 90 percent – also carry ID.
One issue that has not been addressed, however, is cyclist insurance. Unlike drivers of motor vehicles, bicycle riders are not obliged to have compulsory third party insurance to cover injuries caused to other road users.
What impact these laws might have, only time will tell, but the government has committed to revising them as necessary. In the meantime, it’s important to stay safe on the roads and to seek help from the experts if you find yourself injured while riding. Here at Stacks Goudkamp, our personal injury lawyers frequently act for cyclists who have been injured in bicycle accidents on our roads. If this has happened to you, telephone us on 1800 25 1800 for a free no obligation consultation, or make an online enquiry.